Ask the Doctor: First aid kits, melatonin, caffeine headaches

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 1:03 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Dr. Bob Cassady from the South Bend Clinic joins us every week on 16 News Now at Noon to answer your medical questions.

Question #1 (from Debra): “My daughter is heading to college in a few weeks. What medicine should I include in a first aid kit for her to take with her?”

DR. BOB: I would recommend over-the-counter pain and allergy medicines, such as Tylenol and Benadryl.

Those medicines alone should be able to treat headaches, aches and pains, allergy symptoms, and help with occasional sleeping problems.

Beyond those issues, if your child needs help, they should seek care at the student wellness center.

Question #2 (from Carlos): “Is it safe to take melatonin every night before bed?”

DR. BOB: Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by our brains in response to decreased light. It helps all of us go to sleep every night.

Taking supplemental melatonin for insomnia is extremely common. It is not a strong sleep medicine, but it can still be very effective for many people. It takes about an hour to work.

I recommend trying 5 milligrams of a melatonin to help you fall asleep. If it doesn’t help you can try taking 10 milligrams.

If that doesn’t help, I would see your doctor.

Question #3 (from Sara): “What’s the best way to get rid of caffeine headaches? They only seem to go away when I drink more coffee but I’m trying to cut back.”

DR. BOB: Caffeine has a very interesting relationship with headaches.

It is actually a good treatment of headaches. Research shows that a medicine like Excedrin, which contains caffeine, is better than Tylenol alone to treat headache.

However, people who drink caffeine are more likely to have a chronic headache disorder such as migraines.

Finally, when you stop drinking caffeine, the most common symptom is headache.

If you are experiencing caffeine withdrawal headaches, really you must wait it out. After a few days to a week, your body will adjust, and the headaches will improve.

While you are waiting to improve, you could try taking an over-the-counter headache medicine which doesn’t contain caffeine.

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